A Common Thread in Security Clearance Denials Upheld by DOHA
I have noticed a common thread among many of the case summaries written by Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) judges when explaining the board’s rationale for upholding the initial denial or revocation of an applicant’s eligibility for a security clearance. Before I get to that, here is a brief overview of the DoD appeals process (when submitted in writing):
- Government Agency issues the applicant the decision letter denying or revoking eligibility after reviewing the reply (if any) to the statement of reasons
- Applicant submits an intent to appeal (Notice of Appeal) to DOHA within 15 days of the initial denial
- Applicant now has 45 days from the initial denial date to submit an appeal brief to DOHA with the specific reasons (backed up with record evidence) for why they think the initial decision was in error
- DOHA will notify the agency that denied the clearance of the appeal and provide an opportunity for them to reply (within 20 days)
- The board reviews all information and issues a written decision
Sounds pretty simple, right? There is one thing all applicants should be aware of when submitting an appeal to DOHA and it is this; you cannot submit evidence or mitigating information that was not present when the initial decision was made. Take financial issues as an example: you owed five creditors various amounts of money that were in collections and that was the reason you were denied a clearance. After the initial denial you decide to pay off all five creditors and submit the proof in your appeal brief to DOHA. The board will not consider this new information because it was not available when the initial decision was made.
The board is only looking at whether or not the judge’s decision was made in error, was contrary to law, failed to consider any mitigating factors that were present or did not adequately consider other factors using the whole person concept. As always, any doubts about an individual’s trustworthiness will be resolved in favor of national security.